The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall paid a surprise visit to our Bristol distribution centre to thank colleagues for their work keeping food supplies moving during the lockdown.
The Prince, visiting as President of Business in the Community, met 30 colleagues at the depot, including delivery drivers and colleagues from local stores.
One of the people he met was 75-year-old Richard Sigward, who's worked at the distribution centre for 14 years and who, despite being classed as vulnerable, decided not to stay at home and instead worked throughout the lockdown to help feed the nation.
Richard said: "It was a real honour to have met The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. It was a big surprise as we didn’t know anything about it. It’s all been a bit overwhelming as we’re just doing our jobs – but it’s nice to be recognised for all the hard work over the last few months. We’ve all really pulled together at the depot to ensure food supplies have kept moving across the country and I’m really proud I’ve been able to play my part."
Since lockdown began in March, our distribution centre in Avonmouth has made over 12,500 deliveries to stores across the South West of England.
The 700 depot colleagues have worked tirelessly to cope with the increased demand, changing shift patterns, postponing holidays and making overnight deliveries to ensure food supplies reach stores in time for our home shopping colleagues to pick the orders of fresh foods in the early hours of the morning so they can get deliveries to more of our vulnerable customers.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, who unveiled a plaque to mark the visit, were informed of the work we've been undertaking with Business in the Community, as well as the support we've given charity partners FareShare and the Trussell Trust.
At the start of the pandemic, Asda donated £5m of funding for logistics and essential services, in addition to their existing food donation programme. This vital funding has helped FareShare get vans on the road and helped 230 food banks in the Trussell Trust network set up e-referral systems so vulnerable families can be referred for a food parcel either online or over the phone.
In addition the Asda Foundation donated £200,000 in funding to the Royal Voluntary Service to enable them to make welfare and companionship calls to people who may otherwise have been lonely and isolated.
Chris Tilly, Asda General Manager for Bristol CDC, pictured above meeting The Duchess of Cornwall, said: “We’re really honoured that their Royal Highnesses took the time to come and express their thanks to our colleagues for their hard work during the pandemic, we’ve been keeping it as a surprise for weeks.
"The team work has been fantastic right across our business from home office departments, the logistics function and those at the coal face working in the stores. I’m incredibly proud of my 700 colleagues and managers who have really gone above and beyond to keep vital food supplies on the road – and it’s great to see they’ve all be recognised today."
During recent months and in response to the Covid-19 pandemic Asda stores have been lending support for Business In The Community’s National Business Response Network as well as delivering Asda’s own initiatives. You can find out more here.